Questions for Gerard Bos

03 July 2012 | Article

We pose three questions to Gerard Bos as he begins his new position as head of IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme, on his plans for the Programme and business participation at IUCN’s World Conservation Congress.

How will your past experiences in business influence what you bring to your new role as Head of BBP?

It is only in the last 5 years that my job content has been solely focused on Sustainable Development. This means, my past 20 years of business experience was centred on operational management in finance, procurement and logistics. I really learned the importance of biodiversity, nature, ecosystems and ecosystem services whilst interacting with IUCN as relationship manager for the Holcim-IUCN partnership. At that time, I challenged IUCN on the language used and the crafting of arguments to convince business and operations to work with IUCN and drive change. If we want changes to happen on the ground, the operational people need to be convinced of the benefit of the change we advocate and the values IUCN stands for. IUCN will be respected for this.

As head of BBP, I will continue to do so. I will ask my team and support any another IUCN staff interacting with business to be precise, to the point and not to fall into conservation jargon which will not be understood and therefore cannot be acted upon in the business community. Business is ready to be challenged by critical but credible organizations such as IUCN. Therefore, IUCN values and vision need to be expressed clearly to be understood.

How will the new IUCN Business Engagement Strategy direct the way IUCN and in particular BBP work with business?

The Business Engagement strategy has a clear vision, one objective and three entry points, involving; minimizing business’ impacts on biodiversity on the ground, influencing supply chains and promoting integration of biodiversity and livelihoods in public and financial sector policies. It fits with the IUCN 2013-2016 programme and leverages on the knowledge products and the whole of IUCN. This strategy provides a coherent framework largely based on IUCN past experience and learning working with the private sector. In the recent weeks, I met several business leaders and they all welcome this clear and pragmatic strategy which is easy to understand for them. BBP will lead by example and ensure all its existing and future business engagements are mapped to this strategy. We also hope all other component programmes of IUCN will do the same. BBP will work hand in hand with component programmes and regional offices to implement the IUCN Business Engagement Strategy.

What do you expect from business participation at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of South Korea?

World Conservation Congress is a key event for all IUCN Members. It is a critical direction setting event for IUCN Secretariat and we value the views and exchange with IUCN members during that event. It is also an opportunity for business to show and share, hear the views and discuss with IUCN Members. With the Business and Economy Pavilion and many events organized in collaboration with WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) and private sector partners we hope to engage in dialogues on how to move further on various topics. Several journeys have been prepared to help participants to select the side events closest to their area of interest; the business related events captured in the business journey are particularly exciting. Ultimately, we want to enhance the visibility and understanding of the business activities around biodiversity and ecosystem services to the wider conservation community. We also hope to show progress since Bangkok and Barcelona in IUCN’s ability to influence the private sector in mainstreaming biodiversity in their corporate strategies. We look forward for a strong participation from business and a lot of interaction with Members.

More about Gerard Bos
In May 2012, Gerard joined IUCN as Head Global Business and Biodiversity Programme (GBBP). He began his career as a banker and worked for 5 years for Barclays Bank in London and Madrid. For 12 years Gerard worked for Holcim, one of the largest building materials producers, in Europe, USA and Africa, mainly in Procurement and Logistics. Gerard joined the Sustainable Development team at Holcim headquarters in 2007 and managed the relationship with IUCN developing the biodiversity strategy for the Group. He also represented Holcim in WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) Ecosystems focus area, Vision 2050 and CSI (Cement Sustainability Initiative) activities.